Monday, 26 May 2014

Generations (30th Anniversary) Rhinox

While comparatively few of the original Beast Wars figures were especially realistic in terms of molding or colouration, Rhinox was easily one of the worst. The body wasn't awful, but the head looked as though it had been designed by someone working from a written description rather than any visual reference.

Since he's such an important and well-regarded character, Hasbro saw fit (eventually) to completely remake Rhinox, from the ground up, in an attempt to give him both a true-to-life beast mode and a more CGI-accurate robot mode... And then released it in the 'Thrilling 30' toyline which didn't get very far in the UK before being cancelled in favour of the rebranded Generations toyline which will, for a while, at least, focus on the Age of Extinction toys.

Another masterstroke for Hasbro UK's TransFormers brand team, masters of forging disaster from the materials of awesome success.

Age of Extinction/Generations Crosshairs

Considering the rich history of TransFormers and the vast back catalogue of characters, the live action movie franchise has been quite a strange experience. Well-known names are used, but the characters they're applied to all too frequently bear little or no relation to their historical counterparts. The choices of names, too, have been rather haphazard. The lineup for the first movie sounded good, the additions for Revenge of the Fallen sounded good, Dark of the Moon got a little bit more random (Brains? Dino?) and Age of Extinction... Well, it's messed up the names of the Dinobots for starters... 'Slug'? Really? And supposedly because Hasbro realised, relatively recently, that 'Slag' is used as a pejorative in the UK? I mean, come on, it still means "the more or less completely fused and vitrified matter separated during the reduction of a metal from its ore", which is very appropriate for the Dinobot flamethrower.

But I digress. The original Crosshairs was a brick of an Autobot TargetMaster who was very keen on conserving ammunition. Movie Crosshairs is described as a 'paratrooper' and is seen in the trailer dual-wielding handguns, destroying things on either side of him as he very dramatically swoops backward on his dual parachutes. In slo-mo.

How will this ever translate into a small, plastic toy? Well... let's find out!

Friday, 23 May 2014

I don't know what happened to my poll...

...But it was showing three votes in favour of a Nightbeat using the AoE Crosshairs mold, one vote against and, thankfully, none asking "Who's Nightbeat?". Maybe it's just me... but it's showing three zeros when I look at it now...

This has been a Public Service Announcement.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Age of Extinction/Generations High Octane Bumblebee

For a good long while, and new TransFormers line would feature only two certainties: a new Optimus Prime and a new Megatron/Galvatron. Then the movies happened, and suddenly Bumblebee - a character virtually forgotten since the mid-eighties - seemed to become Hasbro's primary focus. Each toyline, they seemed to feel, required at least two variations on the theme of Bumblebee, in every size class, to the point where you could troop-build with Bumblebees...

Whether there was truly ever a market for this suffusion of yellow (Douglas Adams references FTW!) remains open to debate. Certainly, I have a friend who, in the wake of the original TransFormers live action movie, decided to start collecting nothing but Bumblebees, but I'd guess people like that are a happy minority. I ended up buying a total of five Deluxe class Bumblebees over the course of the movie toylines, but only one - Battle Blade Bumblebee - has stood the test of time.

Now, of course, a new movie means a new Bumblebee (or twelve). I'm sure you're all just aching to know how this one stands up against his forebears...

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Cybertron Smokescreen

If there's one thing Hasbro does well (by and large, with some glaring exceptions), it's repaints. All too frequently, the first run of a mold ends up quite plain, lacking paintwork, particularly as the engineering became ever more complicated. Repaints, when they happen, have a tendency to be G1 references or out-and-out homages. Since Galaxy Force seemed from the start to be a great big G1 fan-gasm, it's no surprise that some of its repaints take the idea to the next level.

I noted in my write-up of Autovolt that his mold was the closest thing to the G1/Diaclone standard the toyline had seen in many years - the hood becomes his chest, the legs fold down at the back (yet from the front)... He even has shoulder launchers as his key-activated gimmick. All things considered, it should have been a no-brainer to make a couple of new heads and turn him into Bluestreak/Silverstreak/Streak, Prowl, maybe even Jazz...

But, no. For the Cybertron line, Hasbro never remolded and only repainted the Autovolt once... As Smokescreen.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Armada Megatron

One of my biggest problems, as a collector, is that I often end up buying things I had originally intended to ignore. So it goes with all my TransFormers: Armada (and Micron Legend) purchases, which basically happened because the first one (Laserbeak, if I remember correctly) was kinda fun. That was the only one I really intended to buy, in part because it was broadly 'to scale', making it the distant ancestor of things like the Real Gear subline of the 2007 live action movie toyline.

Some years ago, when Woolworths still existed as a real world shop and before it became impossible to see a movie in Harrow without it being interrupted by people talking all the way through, I often ended up buying old TransFormers toys that were on clearance in Woolies, and much of my small Armada collection - in particular, Optimus Prime (for about a tenner) and Unicron (for not much more) - is from there.

Some, though, I chose to buy because I ended up wanting them... After all, when one has Optimus Prime, one must surely have Megatron as well...

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